Addressing the Marketing Skills and Capabilities Shortage

Three toy business people on top of a jigsaw puzzle with one missing piece.


PHOTO: Adobe

The more things change, the more they stay the same, said French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, more than a century ago.

While every element of the brand experience, from design to delivery, has been transformed, the fundamental marketing challenge of finding the sweet spot between customer needs and wants remains the same as ever. Science is much more scientific, and even art is helped by AI, but acquiring the level of skills and abilities necessary to achieve both remains a challenge. And the breakneck speed at which things are evolving doesn’t help them.

Essential Skills for Modern Marketing Teams

Spending on martech tools, as part of the largest investment in digital transformation, will increase in all markets and industries. Do marketing teams have all the skills to manage the increasing complexity of the stack? Maybe not. In fact, this article cites a report that pegs companies with structured skill development programs at just 35%.

But the skills can be learned. With a layered approach to constantly improving skills, it is possible to keep up with changes in a specific area. For example, despite the rate at which social media marketing evolves, a specialist will improve over time. As marketer and author Neil Tambe puts it, a skill is “something you learn to do and you do. You repeat it over and over and do it better. “

It’s no wonder that most of the skills modern marketing teams need to keep up to date are related to data and analytics in some way. At the forefront are quantitative and qualitative data analysis; data-driven CX design; and data privacy and governance. Susan Ferrari, Senior Industry Director at the CXM Alida platform, includes the ability to leverage artificial intelligence, data automation and voice of customer (VoC) optimization across channels and platforms to deliver ‘personalized’ experiences .

But the skills closest to the field are also rare. Darrell Alfonso, AWS Global Marketing Operations Manager, teaches an 8-week intensive course on Marketing Operations, a skill that is experiencing great interest. “Many leaders are realizing the importance of repeatable and scalable operations for long-term business success. So we see directors and vice presidents of marketing operations, but also specialized titles like marketing operations analyst and marketing operations strategist, ”he says.

Albet Buddahim, founder and CEO of Katapult Digital, an end-to-end digital agency based in Asia, says that the technology, which is a strong enabler, demands performance-based skills like UI / UX, precision advertising; model attribution; data study management; and monitoring of campaign performance. SaaS talent whisperer Erica Seidel, who runs The Connective Good, is seeing interest in ‘solution marketers’, reflecting that marketing leaders are very much like general managers. Alfonso endorses that “T-shaped marketers (deep technical knowledge in one area, but broad knowledge in most marketing areas) are filling junior positions and senior marketers who have delivered significant results (such as growing a business to IPO or generate large audiences) are occupying the leadership positions. ”

The key to having a skilled marketing team is investing in personalized learning experiences so that team members not only learn what is currently in place, but also learn and apply the news as they come along, assuming they can be retained for long enough for the investment to pay off. switched off.

Essential skills for marketing leadership

Capabilities are the biggest challenge for marketing leaders today. “An ability is not a specific ability that fits a certain situation. It is a deeply ingrained skill that can be applied in many contexts. “Says Tambe, on his blog. It is to hone the ability to generate a desirable result in any given situation. It assumes that, regardless of the challenges they face, specialists in marketing who have certain skills will manage and possibly even prosper.

Since the pace of change in marketing is what it is, marketers need to focus on honing capabilities such as:

  • Streamline operations, eliminate silos, and collaborate with multiple stakeholders toward business goals.
  • Accurately identify problems to be solved, guide analytics teams scouring data for insights, and apply them for creative problem solving.
  • Know the best way to apply technology to obtain optimal results. While marketing leaders are not expected to have the skills of a data analyst or scientist, the ability to understand how data flows and why is crucial. Ferrari calls it “the ability to understand and embrace the integration of multiple sources of customer data across an organization.”
  • Create new business and operating models amid resource constraints and disruptions, such as the rise of the subscription economy and D2C commerce.
  • Solving the conundrum of privacy versus scope while ensuring brand safety and compliance.
  • After a pandemic, the ability to manage a dispersed workforce and cross-functional collaboration more effectively than ever.
  • Finding and keeping the best talent by creating an infrastructure of continuous learning experience.

Buddahim adds that “digital transformation leadership” capabilities are paramount in all roles, and the CMO is no exception. In this context, marketing leaders must be able to enable processes that transmit digital knowledge in a multidirectional way.

Carlos Doughty, founder and CEO of the Martech Alliance, which offers events and learning solutions, summarizes the top three capabilities for today’s marketers as the ability to embrace change and learn quickly; balancing data-driven marketing with branding art; and operate both strategically and operationally, connecting the pillars of planning, people, platforms and processes.

There is no easy way to bridge the gap

When multiple global companies eliminate the CMO role, we know it’s time to rethink the entire marketing organization. “Everything changes so fast in marketing, we are not like doctors or lawyers where years of experience automatically equates to higher performance,” says John Wall, a partner in the analytics firm run by IA Trust Insights.

The only sustainable approach lies in investing in a strategy and culture that nurtures both skill development and leadership capabilities in an institutionalized environment of continuous learning. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Alfonso adds: “Leading marketing organizations are making sure that the talent they bring in exceeds the talent of the current bank; it’s the only way to ensure that the caliber of talent continues to improve. The formal learning opportunities are great, but we often forget that team members learn from each other. “

Teams that don’t have this, despite a wealth of tools and technology, will remain very ill-prepared for what the future may bring. Those who get it will be in a position to demonstrate the real value of marketing, transforming the function from cost center to revenue generator.

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